By Mike Anderson
A Cottonwood High School student is taking dedication for her religion to the soccer field.
Serene Kergaye is a devout Muslim, and she loves soccer. When she’s on the field, she often stands out because she follows a dress code of modesty.
“Yeah, I look kind of weird on the field,” she said. “I’ll be dressed head to toe in one color – because we have to be either white or black – but oh well, I’d rather play.”
Of course from the sidelines, she tends to turn a few heads. “Definitely, they probably do a double take,” girls soccer coach Angela Hamilton said. “She’s different than any other girl on the field.”
But that inner dedication to religion and sport goes way beyond what Kergaye wears. During Ramadan, Muslims fast each day, early all of August.
“I don’t drink any water all day, from 5 a.m. til 9 p.m. It was hard,” Kergaye said. “Usually I only have one game and one practice a week, but this year it was every day, 4 to 5 hours a day.”
The coach is impressed with Kergaye’s dedication. “It’s really neat to see somebody that dedicated to something they believe in,” Hamilton said, “and it does translate on to the field.”
Her teammates agree. Ali Bromley-Dulfano said Kergaye puts a lot into her sport.
“She would come every day, and she would say stuff like, ‘I’m so excited for when I can eat again, cause I’m gonna take on all of you guys. I’m gonna take you down!’ Bromley-Dulfano said laughing.
But Kergaye said that outward dedication is about more than following a dress code. She hoped that as people take notice, they’ll start to understand Muslims better and look past the stereotypes.
“I think if they knew more Muslims and stuff, and knew that we’re normal, we don’t sit in our basement all day and make bombs,” she said. “We play soccer. We play football. We’re normal. (We) just wear more clothes.”
Hamilton said Kergaye refuses to take it easy.
“Pretty much, everybody thinks their religion’s the religion. But, I think mine’s right, so I’m gonna follow it,” Kergaye said. “And I’m not gonna go halfway.”
Kergaye’s parents were both born in the United States, and both come from a Muslim background. Their roots come from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Switzerland.